Article | Journal of Financial Economics

Valuation Waves and Merger Activity: The Empirical Evidence

by Matthew Rhodes-Kropf, David Robinson and S. Viswanathan


To test recent theories suggesting that valuation errors affect merger activity, we develop a decomposition that breaks the market-to-book ratio (M/B) into three components: the firm-specific pricing deviation from short-run industry pricing; sector-wide, short-run deviations from firms' long-run pricing; and long-run pricing to book. We find strong support for recent theories by Rhodes-Kropf and Viswanathan (forthcoming) and Shleifer and Vishny (2003), which predict that misvaluation drives mergers. So much of the behavior of M/B is driven by firmspecific deviations from short-run industry pricing, that long-run components of M/B run counter to the conventional wisdom: Low long-run value to book firms buy high long-run value-to-book firms. Misvaluation affects who buys whom, as well as method of payment, and combines with neoclassical explanations to explain aggregate merger activity.

Keywords: Valuation; Mergers and Acquisitions; Forecasting and Prediction; Price; Theory; Behavior;


Rhodes-Kropf, Matthew, David Robinson, and S. Viswanathan. "Valuation Waves and Merger Activity: The Empirical Evidence." Journal of Financial Economics 77, no. 3 (September 2005): 561–603.